Environmental management is a social and political process. This means decisions that ignore, under-emphasise or don’t explicitly address human behaviour, economic drivers and social preferences are less likely to achieve desired outcomes, and may even exacerbate environmental problems. Further, many formal decision points in environmental management are preceded by societal trends, policy commitments and economic investments that can significantly limit the scope of potential ‘solutions’ available to environmental decision makers.
The future for coral reefs everywhere depends on the ability of decision-makers to recognize and make choices that will maximize the contribution of the Reef to social and economic wellbeing while protecting and restoring its natural capital, and thus sustain the benefits derived from coral reefs long into the future. This requires knowledge, tools and ways of thinking that capture both market and non-market benefits derived from nature, and that enable decision makers to assess (and communicate) the trade-offs between environmental condition, economic activity and human wellbeing under different decision scenarios.